JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE ; 3 August 1845; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18450803-JWC-TC-01; CL 19: 125-128
JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE
Seaforth House Sunday [3 August 1845]
Here I am—“On this firm tripod I take my stand”!1— If I am not content with my environment now, I need never expect to be so—away from home. I have found Seaforth all that it was last year and somewhat more—a great rehabilitation of the Material has taken place since last year. There is the same unformal speculative, civilized-gipsey manner of life—the same recognition of humanbeingism in the Servants—the same “run of the paddock”—(in the sense in which Nebuchadnezar(?)2 would have understood it)—that is to say; everybody may walk on the turf instead of the gravel walks, may pull flowers as well as look at them, and eat the fruit—even the grapes in the hot house ad libitum one may lie about on all the different sofas in all the different rooms—every where there is freedom and a great big fire. Even in my bedroom I found a fire that might have roasted the fatted calf,—but that after the first day I begged to have discontinued— One puts on ones clothes in the morning—and has nonthing more to think about dressing till one takes them off at night—such a blessed deliverance after the three-times-a-day-state-dressings at Maryland Street! In short one “has all things most pleasant in life” and “the āll-wĭse great Cree-ā-tor saw that they wanted a cook”3—and has supplied the deficience— Even Elizabeth Pepoli would be satisfied with the “quality” and “variety” of the “food”—never to speak of me—who want “but little here below”4— The well aired roomy picturesque house with its free original picturesque life is quite paradise after Maryland Street—the very first night I slept famously—I was put in my old “Canning's room”5 and did not feel to be trying a new thing—but rather to be “taking up the threads of old relations”—everything was arranged in my bedroom as I had wished it last year—the housemaid “recollected Mrs Carlyle did not sleep with the quilt”—“liked a bit of the shutter left open”—recollected every thing—and looked so friendly and glad to see me again— As for Mrs Paulet the sight of her face the day she came to fetch me gave me the feeling as if all the bells of Liverpool had suddenly begun ringing welcome to me—it was a real consolation after Jeanie's apathetic reception and leave-taking— Poor Jeanie! she has taken Miss Clarke (the great Liverpool dressmaker)6 for the Divinity of her worship—and Andrew Crystal himself had better not enter into competition with her. “the down has been swept from the cheek of that beautiful enthusi—asm”7—with a vengeance!— I went on board with my Uncle and her that night—and very sad and strange it seemed that I should be seeing them off to Scotland instead of, as in former times, they seeing me off— My Uncle coughed very much in parting with me, and repeated many times in a tone that went to my heart—“I wish you had been coming with us—couldn't you come yet?”
Geraldine wrote to me that she would do as “she would be done by and let Mrs Paulet have me alone till Monday”—which was not less well judged than well meant—tomorrow we shall have her with all her exstasies “hot and hot”—and then—one must indulge in her according to ability—tho if one could not have got her one could have done amazingly well without late last night arrived Mrs Newton (Mrs Paulet's Mother) and Julia Newton—on their way to Wales— they go tomorrow morning— Mrs Newton thro her marriage with a Methodist Minister has preserved her air of Lady of Rank all over8— She has been the most beautiful of women in her time—is still very stately and interesting—as tall as Lady Harriet—with a lovely expression in her eyes. She has very easy dignified manners, like one who neither had forgotten the sphere she quitted nor felt at all ashamed of that she is in—one would say she was still in love with her husband she brings him into her conversation whenever she can with such a young-girl look of pride—and Mrs Paulet declares her Father is still over head and years in love with her—tho' she is seven years older than himself9—a love-match which has succeeded—as certainly cannot be said of many!
I have heard “qulque choses [some things] devilsh strange” of Robertson since I came here— If the man be not mad I am afraid he is a damned swingler! but I rather incline to rely on his madness. Only imagine his coming down here to marry a wife and carry her off to Scotland, without a sixpence beyond what paid his fare down and kept him a few days at an Inn! Mrs Paulet began to suspect that he was cleared out and simply could not leave Seaforth for want of the means—and being “quite sorry for him,” she begged her husband to sound him in some delicate way and volunteer a loan—Mr Paulet discharged his mission “like the most delicate female”—and Robertson thankfully accepted six pounds— He had thirteen pounds (in the world)—he said—but could not raise it until himself were in London! He did repay the six after some weeks—from which fact Mr Paulet generously insists that he must be an honest man—especially as he “laid down twelve pounds before him bidding him take what he needed and Robertson only took six!” And something else I have been told of him belonging to another department—which exceeds all that I ever heard of unmentionable—and is at the same time the most ludicrous piece of unmentionability it ever entered into the heart to conceive—I have not laughed so much over anything for the last dozen years— If I accummulate a great many atoms here, as I intend to—and consequently increase in moral courage I shall tell you this wonderful history—from under the table, or in some modest position—when I come.
No wonder poor Geraldine bolted!
Mrs Paulet was much pleased with the book10— She is a sincere and intelligent admirer of yours—which all your Lady admirers cannot have said for them—(that charming design of the little Bishopess was “emblematic of much”!11)— She does hope that you will come to Seaforth on your way into Annandale.— I give you no advice—for you are “guy ill to deal wi—”12 and one does not like to accept responsibily in advising you this way or that—only I can say sincerely that Seaforth suits me to stay at better than any other place I know of in the present existing habitable globe—
Mr Paulet's christian name—since you will have it—is Etienne—genererally written E.—— But you had much better do as I bade you—address to the care of Mrs Paulet that my letters may not been taken to the counting House and kept there till “Etienne Paulet Esqr” comes home at night
When do Buller and Fleming set out for Varese13— I must get up some dispatches for Mrs Buller— Are you at Addiscombe today? here it is raining vigourously but such fires! and this dim Library which I have got—all to myself—is my ideal of ease with dignity